Although his birth date was never officially recorded, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel entered it as 31 October 1875 on his matriculation examination papers. Since, then, his birthday is celebrated every year on this day. Also known as the Iron Man of India, Founding Father of India, Bismarck of India, and Unifier of India, Patel is the country’s first Deputy Prime Minister.
A senior leader of the Indian National Congress (INC), he played an important role in India’s independence and shaping the future of the country. Born in Nadiad, Gujarat, he was a barrister by profession. He was also posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1991.
Not only for India’s independence, but also fought against alcoholism, untouchability, and caste discrimination, and supported the empowerment of women. In 2014, the government of India announced that his birthday would be observed as “National Unity Day” or “Rashtriya Ekta Diwas” in India.
Here are some lesser-known facts about Patel:
- In 1891, by the age of 16, he got married to Jhaverba Patel and passed his matriculation at the age of 22.
- He always knew he wanted to be a barrister and study in England but his family was not rich enough to enroll him in a college. Later, he settled with his wife in Godhra and took a course in Law and practiced as a country lawyer in Godhra, Borsad, and Anand.
- At the age of 36, Patel could finally go to England to study Law where he enrolled in Middle Temple, Inns of Court, London. He completed a 36 months course there within 30 months and topped his class.
- When he returned to India in 1913, Patel settled in Ahmedabad and became one of the city’s most renowned criminal lawyer.
- While taking care of his friends suffering from Bubonic plague, Patel came down with the same disease as it is contagious. He sent his family to a safe place and spent some time alone in a temple. Later, he recovered from the disease slowly.
- Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was fond of playing Bridge, which is a card game and defeated many big players of this game very easily.
- In 1917, he fought the municipal election in Ahmedabad and won it. Thus, began his political career.
- Initially, Patelnwas not a believer of Mahatma Gandhi‘s ideology, but a subsequent meeting with him in October 1917 changed Patel’s perception and led him to join the Indian independence struggle.
- The same year, he organised a non-violent movement of peasants in Kheda District. He asked them not to pay taxes, which resulted in tax exemption for a year along with reduction in the rates.
- He played a major role in creating the Indian Administrative Services (IAS). He came to be known as ‘Patron Saint’ for establishing modern All India Services.
- In 1946 during the Congress election, Patel was the first choice to become the first Prime Minister of independent India. But upon Gandhi’s request, he stepped down as a candidate and allowed Nehru to take the place instead.
- On December 15, 1950, Patel died as he suffered a major heart attack.